Softly open in Little Italy is Sorrento Ristorante, Bar e Pizzeria, which slips into La Villa's vacant spot at 1646 India Street. When La Villa shuttered at the end of 2014, several chefs and restaurateurs were reportedly vying for the space. Ultimately, La Villa's parent company, Little Italy Restaurant Group, which operates several other eateries in the neighborhood including Buon Appetito and Sogno Di Vino, decided to keep and refresh the restaurant.
Owner Antonino Mastellone, who also owns a piece of a number of other Italian restaurants in San Diego, from Hillcrest's Ristorante Arrivederci to Piacere Mio in South Park, named Sorrento after his birthplace in Italy; he's remodeled the dining room into a more casual space and added a fabric covering over the large outdoor patio. The new menu includes salads, antipasti and almost 20 pasta dishes ranging from tagiolini far diavala with seafood in a pink sauce to gnocchi sorrentina; gluten-free and whole wheat pasta substitutions are also available. The existing pizza oven is baking up traditional margherita pies and calzone, and entrees include involtini of swordfish and chicken cooked piccata, marsala, parmigiana or saltimbocca-style. Currently, the restaurant is open for dinner nightly starting at 5 p.m., but they'll soon expand with a happy hour and lunch service. After guiding Sorrento out of its launch phase, Mastellone says that he'll turn his attention across the street, where's he's revamping his bakery/eatery Solunto's.